Secret Cinema is a great concept and this was the first time that I had experienced it, having taken part in a matinee performance of their Stranger Things version of this interactive experience. I just got home from this earlier today. It was the first time they had done a performance based on a television show, with a focus on movies usually.
This performance is still going to be going on until February of 2020 so my plan is to just write a quick review here of what I experienced today to get you excited for this concept… I’ll then be doing a second one ready for March once all performances are done, to go in to far more detail. I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone, because let me start by saying the secret in Secret Cinema is the most exciting aspect! Don’t be tempted to delve too deep in to the experience before you go!
When you first buy your tickets, it is only then that you find out exactly where it is, being limited to knowing that it’s in London before then. They utilise an old warehouse and transform it in to the Starcourt Mall of Hawkins, Indiana for their 4th July celebration which also happens to be the school reunion for Hawkins High. As you arrive you see the entrance to the mall with a few cars parked out the front… Immediately you start to get sucked in to the concept, before they stick your mobile phone in a magnetically sealed bag… Yep – no photos, no social media, no messages and no other digital distractions. Enjoy it!
When you step inside, you really do step in to an 80s mall in the throws of a party, where you can do some shopping, play some games, get an ice cream or drink and even get your photo take. Get involved in as many things as you can and do so right from the start. Don’t be that guy or that girl who doesn’t bother putting any effort in to their outfit – don’t go in your regular clothes! Grow a sense of how to have fun and get in to the spirit of it – who cares if you’re dressed like a bit of a nob. Once you arrive, if you’re in your normal clothes, that’s when you’ll stand out… as the boring people.
There are opportunities to get involved with characters from the show, see little snippets you might find familiar, help to solve mysteries or you might be there to have fun and join in the party atmosphere. I tried to sample a little of everything and I must say, just being a citizen of Hawkins is a hell of a lot of fun! I got pulled up to do a little jig at a secret party, I joined in the big hair and beard competition and I ate… quite a few things!
The food (and everything here) is pretty pricey, but then again it’s a closed event and it’s London so I expected nothing less, but it is actually very tasty high quality food, so tuck in!
It’s easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle and as the performance draws closer you get more and more drawn in and even if things get a bit confusing for the people who just came to party, it will become very apparent when the show is going to start. The atmosphere changes and the event gets a buzz about it like I have never experienced before.
I love cinema and I love gigs, always have done. This has the theatrics of an amazing cinema production with the atmosphere of a live concert, but then it has something else… then something else again, and again, and again! It keeps building and without going to to any real details it’s not a Stranger Things screening, it is SO much more than that. Let it suck you in and spit you out 3 and a half hours later, from enjoying the fair to witnessing one of the most amazing performances of my life. It is enjoyable, clever, exciting, awe inspiring and most surprisingly, very emotional – a lot of things I didn’t expect.
I want to tell you all about it but I want to keep that secrecy alive… You have to go and witness this for yourself while you still can, because once the performance is finished in February, that’s it… It’s gone, and I don’t see how anyone will ever recreate what they have produced here.
Well done Secret Cinema… I can’t wait to see what you do in the future. Dirty Dancing really isn’t my thing, maybe you can do the Matrix, Hellboy, Resident Evil, the Walking Dead or Silent Hill one day… Just thinking!